I today deactivated my Facebook account. It was some effort, because I had developed some Facebook applications, and their page to reassign them to a different developer was broken (actually the whole application edit page was broken).

I have always been a “responsible” user, keeping good control over my data, and usually just posting stuff that I’d tell anyone anyway. Facebook has also always been some kind of “marketing” tool for me, being able to support some friends by inviting people to go to their events etc.

However, there are plenty of reasons to abstain from Facebook:

  • They track you on millions of web pages via the like button. See earlier posts on how to block some of this tracking.
  • They collect tons of data on you even when you do not join, by collecting data on you via your friends email accounts, phone books etc. For example it has been shown that, when one of your friends uses Facebook for iPhone, then Facebook already has collected your phone number.
  • Facebook is flooding you with information that is entertaining at first, but actually quite useless. (e.g. who became ‘friends’ with whom). FBpurity is a good way to remove much of the trivially useless information.
  • Facebook is a huge time sink if you are not responsible, e.g. refrain from using all the games, use FBpurity to filter our cruft etc.
  • Facebook is giving you the impression of having lots of friends and of being social - while in fact, you are probably even spending less time with your actual friends than ever before.
  • Facebook is a great tool - for mobbing. You can easily tell things to everybody except a certain person. Invite them all to a party, but hide it from the target until its over, then brag on how great the party was. And so on - and in fact, that is what happens to non-Facebook users already; this is the kind of social pressure that made Facebook so big.
  • Facebook is a lot about bragging rights. Having the most friends, the coolest photos, the best links, the prettiest girls posting on your wall.

Facebook makes things easier, but also a lot more shallow. When someone took note and remembered your birthday, there was some effort involved that shows that they cared. With Facebook reminding people to greet, what is a birthday greeting on Facebook more than an automated message? It’s about as personal as the annual christmas card by some large company. Face it: the “social” part of the “social web” is pretty shallow.

As you can see above, I’ve been caring about these issues for some time; I post selectively, I filter much of the tracking, I don’t use their games. With my Hiatus, I want to further improve, in particular

  • use my spare time for useful projects instead of reading trivialities posted on Facebook. There is just so much tiny stuff that you could do with your time instead.
  • spend more time with my true friends
  • be more self-aware of my time use in general
  • remind people that they know people outside of Facebook, too